Over the next six months or so Australia will undergo a
wallet-deflating multitude of major sporting events that is already showing
signs of box office overload as ticket sales for the ICC Super Series ODI games in Melbourne next week are currently
slower than anticipated.

Ordinarily you could expect this unique showcase event
between Australia and a Rest of the World combination to be a box office smash,
but when you consider it must also compete with the climax to the two major
domestic football competitions less than two weeks apart, and the Spring Racing
Carnival goes up a notch from tomorrow in both Sydney and Melbourne for the
next six weeks, that’s just the tip of the events collision iceberg.

Throw in motor sport coming into its biggest annual month
with the Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast Indy Carnival, and the Australia Moto GP
at Phillip Island in October, along with the Socceroos huge home leg World Cup
qualifier just around the corner in November; and your dollar can only go so
far.

That’s also without factoring in the on-going domestic professional
leagues, including the newly launched A-League, and plenty of discretionary
income happily splurged at Melbourne Cup Carnival time, let alone the summer
cricket calendar. Then you also have late
year major golf before heading into the summer tennis culminating with the
Australian Open; and before you know it we are backed up again into the
football pre-season competitions. Which
of course still leaves the massive one-off biggest drain of them all in the
next 12 months – the Commonwealth Games next March, ahead of a delayed
Australian Formula One Grand Prix; and you know something has to give.

Melbourne might be the self-proclaimed sports
capital of the world (and its jam-packed calendar does nothing to dissuade us of
this boast) and Australia is obsessed with sport, just how much time and money can a sports-loving public set aside?

This is going to be a major concern for all sports outside
the Games –although the Cup Carnival now seems recession proof; as they battle
to maintain their market share let alone seek to grow it.

There are going to be casualties as both the corporate
world and Joe Blow are spoilt for choice as their sporting dollar is stretched
thinner than ever.

Golf, whose domestic tournament fortunes have been in decline
for years, and the fledgling A League will be particularly anxious that too much
sport doesn’t see them among the major box office casualties. Which is why Australia’s second home leg qualification
game in Sydney on November 16, that could seal our 2006 World Cup berth in
Germany, becomes more critical than ever – and surely the one box office
certainly in this whole excess of supply over demand.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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